Centering Survivors in the Law, Criminal Justice Crystal Ball, Part 3, with Nelson Bunn

Season 2Episode 21December 10, 2020

Nelson Bunn joins us in a look at statute of limitation (SOL) reform: While it’s good news that many states have reformed SOL laws for victims of child sexual abuse, reform also poses challenges, such as maintaining evidence in perpetuity and centering the needs of survivors in the law.

A wave of statute of limitation (SOL) reform has swept our country, giving survivors of child sexual abuse—who may take years to fully process and disclose what happened to them—more time to seek justice. But the reform poses challenges for prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and professionals who work with victims of child abuse. How do we properly maintain evidence in perpetuity? What resources do we need to really store this evidence—both physical and digital—and support survivors throughout their lifetimes? In this conversation with Nelson Bunn, executive director of the National District Attorneys Association, we discuss how to meet the practical demands of retaining evidence and prosecuting older cases while keeping survivors centered at the heart of our work and at the heart of reform.

Topics in this episode:

  • Benefits and challenges of SOL reform (2:04)
  • Preserving evidence (7:37)
  • Digital evidence (11:31)
  • Prosecuting the backlog (15:29)
  • Advice for CACs (18:38)
  • Learn more about NCA and CACs (22:24)


Nelson Bunn, executive director, National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) has information on child protection laws across the United States

Justice Served Act of 2018 amended the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000 to add, as a purpose area under the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, increasing the capacity of prosecutors to address the backlog of violent crime cases involving suspects identified through DNA evidence. Debbie Smith is a survivor of sexual assault. The DNA evidence from her forensic exam afterward went unanalyzed for more than five years.

Listen to the rest of the Criminal Justice Crystal Ball Series:

You may also enjoy “Radically Vulnerable: Achieving Justice for Survivors” with Prof. Marci Hamilton (aired 9/30/2019)

Transcript to come.